An Invitation to Creative Imagination
“What is now proved was once only imagined,” said William Blake, the greatest genius England has ever produced. For example, today most of you have a smartphone in your pocket. What it can do is what was only an imagination a few years ago in the sci-fi movies.
If you bought a new car this year, you would likely to have all the features you used to see in the James Bond movies. It can recognize the lanes, so if you drift out of the lane, it pulls you back in automatically. It can recognize the distance between you and the car in front of you, so if you are too close, it will hit the brake for you.
What I like most is, you can follow the car in front of you at a certain distance you tell it to follow, and you can let go of the paddles. If the car in front of you slows down, your car will automatically slow down; if it speeds up, your car will speed up, keeping the same safe distance. It’s so useful when you drive in a heavy traffic, since you don’t have to move your foot between the paddles back and forth, which can be very tiresome.
These smart car features make your driving less stressful and your vacation enjoyable. It’s just one step behind a self-driving car. So, if you don’t get to buy a new car this year, don’t rush. In a few more years, it will have more features, and it will be likely a full-fledged self-driving car.
Anyway, William Blake is right, “What is now proved was once only imagined.”
In fact, he also said, “The imagination is not a state: it is the human existence itself.” Blake despised people who lack imagination. Much of his imagination eluded people of his time, for which he said, “What is grand is necessarily obscure to weak men. That which can be made explicit to the idiot is not worth my care.” Sounds quite harsh, doesn’t it?
Great minds think alike. C.S. Lewis also said, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” ― C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses).
According to my research on the great minds, creative imagination is the presence of the Holy Spirit. If you are here this morning feeling beat up by the storms of life, I have a solution for you: exercise your creative imagination. This world is a sea of suffering, and the only way to stay afloat is your positive imagination.
I am not talking about wishful thinking. Creative imagination is a gift from God to navigate this life. It is the very Spirit of Jesus Christ that enabled him to forgive when he was suffering from the worst injustice in human history when he was on the cross. It is his imagination of the bright future that allowed him to endure the cross.
Lack of imagination will make you become negative, complainful, and resentful which will make the suffering even worse.
In today’s scripture lesson, there was a group of people known as the Sadducees trying to trap Jesus with their lack of imagination. It says,
Some Sadducees, those who say there is no resurrection, came to him. (Luke 20:27).
There were two major group of Jewish teachers in Jesus time—Pharisees and Sadducees. The Sadducees did not believe in resurrection. They were more logical thinkers. Resurrection did not make any scientific sense. They are the liberal wing of the political religious leaders of that time. The Pharisees were conservative, and they started a “back to the Bible” movement of the first century.
The Pharisees often accused Jesus of being liberal, and the Sadducees accused Jesus of being conservative. At the end, both sides collaborated to crucify Jesus. In previous weeks, we talked about how the conservative Pharisees tried to trap Jesus so that they could take him to the court. Now, it’s the liberal Sadducees turn.
In order to charge Jesus of being a false teacher, they must prove him of being unbiblical, particularly teaching something against the law of Moses.
(The Sadducees) asked him a question, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no children, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother. (v. 28).
It’s like in a war movie where the enemy is setting up the battle ground to lure the protagonist in so that they can trap him in and kill him. Now the enemy has secured the field using the Mosaic Law. According to Moses, if a man died without children, his brother must marry his wife so that she could have children to continue her late husband’s lineage.
Here’s why the Sadducees used this law to trap Jesus. For them, the eternal life means eternal lineage on this earth. If the eternal life was after death, and if there’s resurrection, why would Moses require the younger brother to propagate his late brother’s lineage? Do you see the logic here? They were arguing that Moses had proven with this law that there’s no such thing as resurrection.
Now, after setting up a firm ground on Mosaic Law, they began to ridicule the concept of resurrection by proving that it’s totally illogical and impossible.
“Now there were seven brothers; the first married, and died childless; then the second and the third married her, and so in the same way all seven died childless. Finally the woman also died. In the resurrection, therefore, whose wife will the woman be? For the seven had married her.” (Luke 20:29-33).
I am sure the crowd was laughing at this moment. If there’s such thing as resurrection, whose wife is this woman be? This is a very logical question since she had seven husbands.
Much of creative imagination in life is killed by logic. They thought they had made Jesus look like a fool and from now on no one would take Jesus’ teaching seriously. If Jesus said Moses was wrong, then they could take Jesus to the court for being anti-Moses. They must be gleefully laughing at Jesus like a little lamb trapped among a herd of wolves.
Jesus’ answer convicted them of lacking imagination and that they themselves were trapped in their own logic.
Jesus said to them, “Those who belong to this age marry and are given in marriage; but those who are considered worthy of a place in that age and in the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Indeed they cannot die anymore, because they are like angels and are children of God, being children of the resurrection.” (v. 34-36).
Jesus was saying that marriage belongs to this side of eternity, not the other side. Human beings were originally created to have eternal life, until our first ancestors brought death to humanity by their fall. Marriage became necessary after the fall because, since death is introduced to humanity, lineage became necessary, or human race would have disappeared long ago.
In a sense, marriage is a gift from God to sustain our existence. Since resurrection is restoration of the eternal life before the fall, marriage is no longer necessary because everyone who is worthy of entering that place will no longer die.
Jesus was saying, “Stretch your imagination! Imagine living a life like angles. Imagine you are all children of God. God does not marry, neither do God’s children.” We cannot use our experience on this side of life to determine what is like on the other side because that’s a whole new world.
Now, Jesus is still in danger of being accused of dismissing Moses’ law. Their belief was that since Moses’ law was received from God. If Jesus is of God, he should not deny it. If Jesus contradicts Moses, he is not from God and he must be taken to court. So, now Jesus proved himself that he is contradicting Moses, but they were the ones who take Moses law out of context.
And the fact that the dead are raised Moses himself showed, in the story about the bush, where he speaks of the Lord as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.” (v. 37-38).
Even though it’s not evident in English language, but what Jesus was referring to is that Moses used the present tense when he made the statement that “the Lord IS the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” God was speaking as if Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were still alive, not dead.
Jesus is saying that they misinterpreted Moses due to your lack of imagination. Since they didn’t believe in resurrection, they failed to see the evidence in Moses’ statements. Our lack of imagination can make us blind to see the amazing beauty of God. God is not of the dead, but of the living.
At the end, Jesus proved with his own resurrection to give us a glimpse of eternity and give us hope. Hope is fueled by creative imagination. The moment you stop imagining, your hope wanes away and you sink into negativity.
There are two way to stretch your imagination: study God’s word and pray with God’s word because the Bible is the book of imagination. All the greatest art and music in human history came from those who took the Bible seriously and derived their imagination from this book.
Even though the words in the Bible can be challenging, it’s a good challenge because it stretches your imagination to enrich your life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
May God bless you all. Amen!